Sunday, April 29, 2012

Here's Your Sign

I want to tell you a story about a dear friend of mine who recently joined the faithful departed- my hair dryer. Now before you blow this off or judge me, let me explain. This was no ordinary hair dryer. It was a red Son of a Gun by Clairol. It was compact. It was effective. It was over 25 years old! Yes an appliance that faithful deserves a moment of recognition. Oh sure, over time it had developed some issues. It overheated if anyone with long hair borrowed it so much so that it would smell fierce and shut off. (I have a short hairstyle and only used it for about 5 minutes per blow dry.) The wattage label had worn off and the cord was permanently twisted. But I cleaned the vents on occasion and stored it properly. I did the best I could to preserve it. It was faithful with a few minor inconveniences. I loved that blow dryer. I thought my blow dryer and I would be together for many more years to come. That is, until, yesterday. I continued in my regular morning routine as I exited the shower. Wrapped in my robe, moisturizers on my face, I pulled my trusted friend out of the cabinet. After applying my recipe of hair product I plugged it in and was ready for a fresh fluffy do. I picked up my hair dryer and that’s when it happened. BAM! It literally fell apart in my hands. Spilt right in two! I was filled with panic and fear. It was incredulous. What had just happened? I took a deep breath, looked inside and realized the plastic parts connecting the two halves had broken. (WARNING! DO NOT TRY THE FOLLOWING!) So, I simply held the two halves together and turned it on. I figured if it still worked, I get some tape later and secure it. What I didn’t think about was that I could possibly get ELECTROCUTED. I didn’t but that’s not the point. After I turned on the hair dryer, I heard a noise from inside the dryer. Perhaps a plastic piece had broken off and had fallen into the motor. I took the halves apart, gave it a shake and nothing fell out. It was at that point, I realized it was over, all those years of hairstyles, all that coiffing, done, no more, over forever. Then it dawned on me, my hair dryer represented more than good looking hair in life. It was a symbol for my habits over the years. It was something I was used to and knew how it would perform. I overlooked the flaws and made due. The comfort I got from the predictable had a certain peace. Yes, I put up with inconveniences and had to make compromises. I was okay it with. It was something I could control and rely on, so I thought. What dawned on me as I stood there wide eyed, damp haired with one half of my Son of a Gun in each hand was that it literally had to fall apart in my hands for me to make a change. Even then I was reluctant. Come on. I could’ve been electrocuted. HELLO! Can you say denial? Cry for help? When something in my life no longer serves a healthy purpose, it’s time to let it go. I want to be someone who doesn’t need to have parts of my life literally fall apart before I change my ways. What has to change in order for me to change? My road to recovery, stepping out of the darkness of denial and into the light of healing has got to be filled with letting go. I can no longer carry all the hurts, habits and hang ups of my past and live free! I have a choice, remain anchored to the past or call on my Savior for strength and courage to move forward. I choose to move forward. Son of a Gun, I think there’s hope for me yet. Daphne- Another Changed Life For more information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yes! I Am Fine, REALLY!

Ok, so many times you have heard me say, “if you only knew what goes on in this crazy little mind of mine” and how my poor wife has had to take many blue chips for my craziness. Well, this is one of those moments but I couldn’t help it.
We were on the plane flying from NW Arkansas to Houston and the flight attendant was doing her normal safety features exercise so we would know what to do if something were to happen. After she took us thru the life boat, exits drill, she walked over to the seats behind me and talked the folks sitting in the exit rows saying, “you guys know you are in the exit rows right?” All of them replied, “YES!” in unison. Then she said “…and you have read the safety pamphlet right?” and again, the same response, “YES!”
Now, knowing they didn’t read the safety instructions, all I could think about was us going down in the plane and trying to get the exit doors open and me turning to the guy trying to figure out how to open the door only to realize, he didn’t have a clue how to do it. Why? Because he didn’t read the pamphlet. So in my crazy thinking all I could think about was how I would respond to him, “But you told the flight attendant you read it! WHY!? WHY!? Look what you have done!” I know what you are thinking, “what kind of crazed dude thinks about their plane crashing and still finds humor in that?” Yeah I know, imagine my poor wife being married to me. But hang on with me here; there is a point to this I promise…. Ok, so we all know that when the flight attendants ask that question, “you have read the safety literature…right?” They are not expecting to get an answer of, “no, I haven’t, please go into greater detail of how this process works”. No, in fact, the flight attendant expects the same answer every time. “Yes maam, we sure have…” and then she goes about her business.
As I sat there with my warped thinking, I could not help thinking about how that is in our life. When we go to church, the grocery store, bank, school, work, or wherever we may go in life, we are accustomed to asking another loaded question to everyone we see. You know, the “How are you doing?” In fact we are accustomed to receiving such questions and giving the ready made answer to a loaded question too aren’t we? “I am fine, and you?” The fact is when most people ask that question, much like the flight attendant, they aren’t looking for a deep answer but rather a simple and quick response that releases them to go on with their business. Too often in my life, I was good with the mask that said, "I am fine". The fac t of the matter is though, that I wanted everyone to think I was “fine” but on the inside I was screaming. I didn’t want anyone to know I was hurting and so if I put the fake smile on and act like all is well, maybe they will leave me alone and not dig too deep. One thing that has been so great about my going thru Celebrate Recovery is that I can now take my mask off. I am learning that when I wear a mask in my life, people in fact love the person that the mask represents not the “me” on the inside. I am a firm believer that if people are growing fond of the “masked Rodney” then I cannot feel love for the real me. If I cannot feel love, then I can’t possibly give love to others. CR has taught me to take the mask off and be ok with some people not liking the real me. The real reward for me is not how many people will like me but how rich the few do for the real me. It is ok not to be liked by all. Life as a real person is so much more gratifying.
Maybe your Father is speaking to you right now. Can you hear Him saying, "WHY?! WHY?! You don’t have to live that way. My way is so much better. Take the mask off and be ok with being the person I created you to be." God promises us that He has plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:11. Take your mask off and watch what God will do in your life. Rodney For information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If You Spot It You Got It

I can spot crazy at 100 yards! I know because I used to be crazy. I’m hypersensitive to it somewhat like a former smoker or drinker. My senses are heightened because the habit is familiar. Within the last week, I had encounters with two separate people one of each gender who are riding on the crazy train. I’m not making this a sexist issue. One person was a contractor. One works for a government agency. I’m not going make this a political issue either. I simply am saying I know crazy.
A commonly accepted definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This is how I know I’m about ready to receive my doctorate in crazy. I’ve spent time in the field. I’ve studied, been tested and am able to diagnose. I’ve learned over the years, with the realization taking place after coming out of denial, that if I don’t change my ways most likely nothing else will change either. I can’t continue to overeat and not exercise without gaining weight. I can’t drink in excess and wake up feeling perky the next day. I can’t belittle others and build myself up at the same time. I can’t allow others to treat me poorly and feel good about myself. All those cant's lend themselves to my learning how to spot crazy. When I finally came out of denial and realized if I wanted change, I had to change, the choir of angels broke out in song, the sky appeared bluer and my life became lighter. I don’t carry the burden of the trappings of the comfort of crazy any longer. As crazy as it sounds, yes, there really is a certain comfort in knowing how things will be as long as I don’t change or admit an issue. I’ve chosen to give up comfort for freedom. Allow me to share my recent encounters with other people’s crazy. My first was with the contractor. We hired a friend (I know that was a slip on my part) to handle a project at our home while we were out of town. (I know mistake number two on my part. I’m really good at justifying.) When we got home instead of being thrilled and awed I was stumped and disappointed. See, when beginning the project if the immediate result was not what he expected, why did he keep going? Why not stop, reassess and change courses? The result of his choice has led to nonpayment of the job, delay in completion and he’s basically going to have to redo the entire project. Crazy, I know. Mildly irritating and inconvenient to me, however if I had not addressed the issue, then we both would be crazy. The second occurrence was on the phone. I don’t actually have to see crazy in order to know crazy. After many failed log in attempts and more than one phone call, I finally go to a human! Being the eternal optimist, I thought eureka! I will finally have my issue resolved. WRONG! I was told this is a known issue with the system. Not only was I told once, she repeated that statement at least three times. So instead of taking care of the issue, she told me how to work around it. Seriously. It’s a known problem and yet instead of fixing it, I was told how to work around it, crazy and inefficient! If she’d told me they were working to resolve it, it would have made me feel better. Oh well, not my problem to fix. I’ve learned crazy can be in both the little and big things. It doesn’t always present itself in frenzied harried obvious ways. It can be subtle, just a pause or a head tilt that trips my alarm system. Two Bible verses come to mind. Perhaps one for each incident this past week. Proverbs 27:17- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. I’m holding our contractor and friend accountable. For both our sakes the issue is being corrected. Also from Proverbs, this time 13:16- Every prudent man acts of knowledge, but a fool exposes his folly. If it’s a known issue why not fix it instead of working around it? Oy! Because I am in recovery and am changing my ways which used to include only looking at others and not acknowledging my part in something, I’ll wrap up with one more verse that comes to mind. Matthew 7:3- Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Without the plank in my eye, it’s easier for me to spot crazy. Daphne- Another Changed life If you would like information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Learning In The Desert

Reading this morning in OT about Moses in the desert and how scary that must have been for him. Alone, scared and feeling like God may have left him. Ever been there? Are u there now? I can remember getting the note from my wife a long time ago saying, "our relationship is over". That threw me into a desert of my own. I was scared, alone and feeling like God had left me. What I realized though was God speaks to me the most in my desert moments. If I had not experienced that desert moment, I would not have been able to hear from God and grow. As painful as that desert moment was for me, it was what I needed at that time in my life. I learned thru that desert moment what God desired from a man and leader of his home. By the grace of God, my wife gave me another chance to lead like a man should lead and we have been married for almost 20 years now. :) You know the beautiful thing about the story of Moses being in the desert? As Moses heard His Father's voice like never before, for 4 decades, God was preparing him to lead others, the Israelites, right back into the very desert he just came out of. Wow! Isn't that crazy!? 2 Cor 1:4 "He (God) comforts us in all our troubles "so that" we can comfort others." God never wastes a hurt. If you are in a desert right now, get ready, cause God is getting ready to speak to you in big ways and grow you. In ways you can never imagine. He may be preparing you to lead others thru the pain or "desert moment" you are experiencing in this very moment. Listen closely. What an honor.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Light Bulb Moments

I’ve been both the accused and the accuser. I’ve heard and uttered the words, “Not the sharpest tool in the shed.” “She’s not the shiniest gem in the tiara.” “He’s a sandwich short of a picnic.” So when life gives me a light bulb moment and I know that all the bulbs in my chandelier are lit, I get excited. I spent a lot of years in the darkness of denial. I couldn’t see a way out. I didn’t know there was a way out. The way it was is the way it would always be. I was doomed to repeat the sins of my past and those who’d gone before me. I was miserable and at the end of my rope. I just kept tying another knot and trying to hold on a little bit longer. For my reality I knew yelling, drinking, abuse, withdrawal, martyr, victim, manipulation, threats (mostly empty) and anger. I didn’t have the stuff TV shows are made of. You know where problems are over in thirty minutes and everyone ends up in a group hug. Growing up I always waited for the other shoe to drop when I visited friend’s homes. I couldn’t get totally comfortable. Their homes just seemed too peaceful.
The darkness was in my heart and behind closed doors. On the outside, everyone wore matching outfits and put on a happy face. Seen and not heard. Use your manners and be polite. My pain took me deep inside myself. I locked away my heart in order to protect it from further damage. I disengaged from life and thought I was still living. At least I thought I could make it look like that way. In May of 2010 an event happened that changed my world forever. At first glance it was devastating and something I didn’t know how I would ever get over. The incident is not mine to share or disclose. I can say it involved a loved one and impacted many members of my family. I can also say because of it, I finally began to seek recovery. I finally saw and admitted that I was “one of those” people. The people who admitted they couldn’t handle life all on their own; the kind of people who needed something and someone bigger than themselves. It was the beginning of fully living my life in full light. Now, almost two years later, I have learned, revealed, released and healed more than I could ever imagine. I did so by taking the first step and admitting I was powerless, followed by the second step and so on. Living in the dark, I wondered around hurt, lonely, ashamed, in fear, with my happy mask I’d been wearing for far too long. ALL along my heavenly Father knew my pain and waited patiently and lovingly for me to turn to Him. “The lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his inmost being” Proverbs 20:27. HIS light now shines through my life. My chandelier is glowing! Two of the lessons I’ve learned along the way have been real light bulb moments. I’ve realized it’s not my responsibility to offset every negative comment someone makes with a positive one. I have not been made the official Susie sunshine cheerleader of the universe. Others are entitled to their own view just as I am mine. Another lesson I’ve learned is that since I don’t have to offset every negative with a positive, I also don’t have to respond at all! Yes, I can keep my mouth shut. I can live and let live.
What light and life giving moments these awakenings have been. I am free to be me and others are as well. It’s not my job to be the light. That belongs to Jesus. I choose to follow Him. “(Jesus) said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jon 8:12. The glow in my life is not self generated. It’s the light that shines through healing. The light comes from forgiving, letting go, and hope. The light comes from victory over the dark. The light that is available to all who seek. Daphne- Changed life thru CR Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Getting Knocked Down...

I can remember in High School being a wide receiver and going up to catch a pass from my quarterback. I ran my route, turned to face the ball, jumped into the air where I saw the ball coming my way and just when I went to catch the ball it happened…BAM! I was hit at my hips and flipped in the air and knocked to the ground (I held onto the ball though). Before you become too impressed, it was in a JV game but still, that is pretty impressive. lol
The point is this, I never saw the hit coming and was completely disoriented when I started to get back up off the turf. I remember thinking, "uh oh! This is going to hurt!"
Isn’t that how life goes though? We are trucking along, feeling like everything is going well, and just when we think something is going to happen a certain way, BAM! Life hits us, knocks the wind out of our sails and knocks us to the turf.
I wish life had a story book ending, but if we were to tell people that is the way things are once you become a Christian, isn’t that just setting them up for a big let down? This crazy life does have many highs, but we must also realize that there are valleys too. Sometimes we are defeated and even fail in life don’t we? I know I have many times!I am learning in this recovery process that God knows I am not able to produce perfection in my life. If I were able to do that, I wouldn’t need Him in my life. My daily walk will always fall short in life but that is why He gave me a precious gift, an undeserved life, to be invited into His family.
I used to use the analogy of my wife being able to bench press 1000 pounds. If I believe the lie that says, “Carol, you should be able to do this!” Then, when she doesn’t do it, I am sorely disappointed. It is the same in life, if I believe the lie that life will be a seamless, blemish free, mistake free process, problem free life, I will be sorely disappointed when it does not happen like that.
The good news though is that this road to recovery process that is LIFE, will ultimately lead me to a process of victory in my life. It is through His wisdom that I gain that I will be able to jump into preventative maintenance rather than reactive maintenance. I can learn through the Father’s direction how to stay out of the thorn bush as well as find ways to climb out of the cave I can get myself into from time to time. Hopefully I am learning how to do that more quickly than I did earlier in my life.
I can tell you this though, this process that I have gone thru in my past has only made me stronger. The Psalmist in Psalm 119:71-72 says, “Is is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes. The law of your mouth is better for me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.”
No one person understands grace better than someone who has had to rely on grace. No one person is better to console and comfort someone in pain from a betrayal etc than one who has experienced pain or a betrayal themselves. This is what I love about Celebrate Recovery Volunteers. They have been blessed thru their pain and suffering and now choose to be a blessing to others who are in the middle of it today. God never wastes a hurt.
Yes, the process hurts, but as we face the pain, we mature and cling to joy. Nothing can separate me from the love of God and nothing can steal our joy or peace. Why? Because we have a Savior to cling to and allow into our mess. Today I am counting my blessings for my Father and yes, even the valleys as it has made me a stronger man for it. Those valleys have shown me a better path to take. And when I get side swiped with the hits of life that catch me off guard, I can still get up and say, The Lord is good and I have joy. The Lord is teaching me thru my pain and I give Him glory. His love endures forever!
Nothing on this earth can give me the strength to do that on my own. That only comes from a relationship with Him.

For more information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Can Fix This Myself....

Ever been in that place where you thought you were in control of what was happening around you? You know that moment where you say, "I got this Lord!" Reading in Acts 7, the familiar story of Moses being told thru the eyes of Stephen. As I was reading this story I see how Moses saw a "need" and thought it was his place to "deal with it" without Gods will. He murdered expecting to be a hero. The most compelling part of this story to me though is in Acts 7:25 where it reads "Moses "assumed" the Israelites would understand God sent him to rescue them....but they didn't" oops....
Here's the thing, God didn't and things ended up a mess for him.
In recovery, we have to come to a place where we understand that there is a God and we are not it. This road called life is difficult enough with God running my life, I don't need to complicate things more and end up back where I was early in my life and recovery.
It is only when we surrender to Him as our higher power that we begin to see change take place in our life. A change that brings new life and new breath. I am reminded today to make sure I don't get out ahead of God and that I never forget that it is God that is in charge of my life, not me. It is easy for me to keep the mentality of wanting to pull myself up by my own boot straps only to realize that I only make it worse when I do that.
Who is running your life today? Are you still trying to play God in your life? Maybe it's time to try something different. His way is always better....I promise!

For more information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Monday, April 9, 2012

Becoming an Easter Person

Growing up, I thought Easter was a one day event. I was raised attending a private church school and attending worship most Sundays. The teachings about Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday were taught and semi caught. It would be years (okay, I’ll be honest, decades) later that I came to realize Easter can last a life time, one day at a time.
Those decades that it took me to become an Easter person, which for me means more than a one day celebratory chocolate bunny and deviled egg eater, new outfit wearing, lily buyer were filled with my own crucifixion. They ultimately resulted in my own spiritual resurrection by the grace and love of Jesus as I laid down my sins and allowed His healing to bring me new life and recovery from my hurts, habits, and hang-ups. It wasn’t until I died to my own self will, indulgences and broken coping mechanisms that I could truly live. I became open to be broken. Little did I know how broken I already was.
As the oldest child growing up in an alcoholic divorced home set me on a path that while painful would eventually lead me to peace. I’ve experienced abuse, have an addiction, am codependent and bore the burden of fear, shame and guilt. Yet, I was the “strong one.” I was the person always in control, had the answers, and could be counted on to fix situations, solve a crisis and be “perfect.” I had to lead by example after all. I thought it was my duty to die to self, to put others before myself and sacrifice my voice, my happiness and well being for others. WRONG!
I relied on myself to handle what life brought my way. I thought I had to. I didn’t really believe I could trust anyone else. I felt abandoned, even by God. Until. . . . until, I took myself to my first Celebrate Recovery meeting. I went with a group of people with the idea of starting our own CR group to help others. You see, I didn’t help myself. Remember, I’m the “strong one.” That one meeting led to another one the next week, followed by another, another and another. I was hooked. Attending worship and open share allowed me to be with other people working on being real and getting healed (not my usual crowd.)
By admitting I was trying to be strong in myself, I realized I was really being weak. It was one of the first lessons I learned. I also learned that no matter how much I have messed up, I am forgiven. I learned I can let go of my past and for today truly live. I learned being resurrected, being raised from the dead is living Easter every day! Through the healing power of Jesus’ death on the cross, as a believer I can celebrate Easter more than one day a year. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2.
Happy Easter today and every day! Daphne

For information about Celebrate Recovery, contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org

Friday, April 6, 2012

Great Good Friday

Well, it’s Good Friday. Imagine the faces you will see tonight. Imagine those that might come just because it’s Good Friday.
Imagine what impact we “get to” be a part of tonight. We “get to” point people to a Savior that died for them and us. Peter wrote in Corinthians, "Christ, our passover (Lamb), is sacrificed for us." This means that our sins have been justified and passed over by God Himself. This is a time many Christians choose to honor the sacrifice Christ made for us... me included.
With that great truth, tonight we get to interact with people that may have been running away from God and now are choosing to run back to the Father, their Master that loves them as much as He does us dearly.
I read a story that Author David Redding wrote recently that spoke to my heart. Paraphrased it goes like this:

There was a guy returning from the Navy that had missed his dog Teddy, a big, black Scottish shepherd. Teddy was his best friend and would do anything for him. He would wait for him when he would return from school. He slept behind him, and when he whistles he ran to him even if he was eating. At night no one could get within a half mile of their home cause he was so protective. Teddy was with this serviceman all the time. You can imagine what it was like when this man had to leave to go away to the war in World War II. So tough.
How do you explain to someone who loves you that you are leaving him and will not be chasing woodchucks with him tomorrow like always.
So, coming home that first time from the Navy was something he could scarcely describe. As he walked home from the bus stop, about a ½ mile out, Teddy, gave his regular warning bark upon hearing a noise. So the serviceman gave out his whistle only once. The barking stopped. There was a yelp of recognition, and he knew that the big black form was hurling toward his master in the darkness. Almost immediately he was there in his masters arms.
What a great picture of a loving embrace.

Tonight, many people will be hurling toward their Master in the darkness, longing for a loving embrace. Wow! What a privilege! We know that they will receive that loving embrace.
I can’t think of a better group of people to celebrate our Savior and our Lord with while serving other hurting people.
Happy Easter Forever Family!

For more information about Celebrate Recovery contact Rodney at 479-659-3679 or roholmstrom@fellowshipnwa.org